Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Juan Gedeon
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date September 23 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Quick recap, folks: In an alternate universe, Venom, Dylan, and new foe Virus have come across a version of New York where Codex rules. Codex has Virus in his captivity, Eddie and Dylan have gone underground, and Anne Weying is alive, well, and is Agent Venom. Venom Beyond isn’t dragging out any of its mysteries. When it comes to this issue, we will learn who or what Codex is, who Virus is, why Virus hates Eddie, and we even get a full explanation about this world’s Anne Weying, who on Eddie’s earth is the deceased ex-wife of Eddie (and Dylan’s mother). Eddie and Anne compare their respective histories until their cross-universe reunion is cut short by the arrival of symbiote copies of Wolverine, Sabretooth, Juggernaut, Omega Red and…huh…the Thing (one of these Things is not like the others…one of these THINGs is not X-Men related). One thought I had at this point in our story is how, funnily, this book is actually a far better VenomVerse and Venomized story than those Cullen Bunn Venom stories ever were, and I highly doubt that’s this arc’s intention.
I’ve been yearning for a fun Venom story since this run went into full dark, foreboding territory around the first arc. I’m not saying this run hasn’t been good (though I will say some of this run did not hit with me), but there was a time when Venom was a guy who cracked jokes, fought criminals, and broke bones. Cates has taken this character and thrown him into a gauntlet that has never let up in its tone; Venom being a dark, moody character instead of the morbid-yet-fun Lethal Protector I miss, Eddie and the symbiote always at odds with each other, Eddie having every misery thrown his away ad nauseam. Even in the stories I liked, this tone has become exhausting. And here, we’ve had a book for the past three issues that involve Eddie and his son getting lost in time-space, in a world where everyone may be a symbiote-copy or bonded to a symbiote, we get some Agent Venom fanservice, and we get to see the return of someone very important to Eddie (a much needed, long overdue win for the man). Also, dare I say…a Venom story where we aren’t separating the Venom symbiote from Eddie’s body? A Venom story where Knull isn’t the center of everything?! Its just a fun story that works!
I continue to stay eager to get my hands on the next issue of this book by the time I reach the final page, a sentiment I haven’t felt about this run since Absolute Carnage. Cates is writing something that feels so different than his usually spiel and I’m ready to nominate this arc as the best he’s done in quite a while. Its a comic that wants to be fun, maybe a little bombastic, and it succeeds. This story is what I pray this series will become once the Knull-coming is said and done. I suspect Cates may still be the writer of this book even after everything with Knull wraps up, and I’m sure he has a “Season 3” planned. Given we aren’t hit with anymore delays, by the time Venom Beyond concludes, King in Black should begin and Knull will have arrived. Still, we haven’t resolved the Maker’s story and his Council of Reeds. There’s reason (I hope) to come back to all this after King in Black is said and done.
Is there a flaw I could bring up? Well, I’ve already stated this in my last review of this series, but Juan Gedeon’s art…lets face it, it isn’t for me. And I hate to criticize the man’s talent. His art is by no stretch bad, but at times there’s this impression I’m left with where his art looks unpolished. Faces that look too simple in some panels. His work looks at its best when he does large panels and full pages which feature only so few characters, or puts the focus on one face and one body, but the panels where you have multiple characters engaging each other, be it the characters regrouping and talking or the characters throwing down in a brawl, that’s when his art loses me.
Three issues in and this may be my favorite arc of Cates’ run, though its preemptive to say since we still have to more issues before this wraps up. This just hits all the right buttons. There are a few fun nods to so many instances in Venom’s past lore that Cates handles in this one book alone that I know seasoned fans of the character in any of his incarnations will get a smile out of. This was a joy to read!
Venom #28 is great! I haven’t had as much fun reading a Venom arc as I’ve been getting out of Cates’ newest story, and three issues in it hasn’t disappointed me.